Natural justice and administrative fairness are at the forefront of Ombudsman investigations. Natural justice is to administrative fairness what due process is to criminal law. For example, if an accused is not informed of his or her rights, there is an error in process. Similarly, if an individual who is denied a service is not informed of his or her right to appeal, the process is flawed. An Ombudsman’s duty is to bring fairness to the process, decisions and actions of government. The Ombudsman will consider all factors when commenting on the fairness of government action.
The Alberta Ombudsman analyzes administrative fairness in a broad spectrum of decisions that affect Albertans. They range from decisions of an administrative tribunal made with a defined statutory mandate (e.g., workers’ compensation benefits, social assistance benefits and disciplinary sanctions for inmates in provincial correctional centers), to decisions where there is a less formal (or no formal) decision-making process. This includes decisions and actions of frontline employees such as employment standards investigators, day-care licensing investigators, child welfare investigators and vital statistics staff who issue birth certificates.